Target Pokémon: Staryu (Hard), Bronzor (Medium)
Target Length: 30,000-50,000
Actual Length: 43,221
Status: Ready for grading
I am the master of my fate.
I am the maker of my world.
The dark waves chafed the sandy shores of the beach. It was slow, steady, rhythmic. The waves came in, the sediments washed ashore. The waves receded, and the sediments were helplessly dragged back. The cycle repeated itself endlessly, beneath the wary eye of the midnight moon. The dark sky stood witness overhead, the stars just barely visible.
A lone figure stood on the beach, aware of his task. He had been waiting for what felt like months to get this opportunity; in reality, it had only been a matter of hours.
He fingered the Pokéballs on his belt. Not yet, he reminded himself. There was a far more important step first. He reached into his backpack and pulled a strange object out from a special pocket.
A fishing rod. It was somewhat telescopic, unfolding from a small cylinder the size of his arm to a long pole as tall as he was. The rod was of superb quality, a man had once said, and it would be more than enough for the purpose he had in mind.
He sighed and cast the bait into the water. A night breeze blew, idly playing with the black hair buried under a barrette. He scowled and grabbed the strange cap to keep it from fleeing.
The string on his fishing pole tightened. Alarmed, he quickly began reeling it in, eager to see what lay on the end of the line. A dark figure approached from beneath the water. He quickly grabbed the first Pokéball on his belt and threw it in front of him.
The shape burst forth from the water, gasping for breath. The boy cursed. A Magikarp flopped miserably on the ground in front of him, water dripping from its orange scales. He scowled. He had not come all of this way to get a [I]Magikarp[/]. He was scowled, but he had been expecting it. He recalled his Pokémon and cut the line, allowing the Magikarp to retreat back to the waters, a thin line of fishing wire trailing from its mouth.
The boy groaned inwardly. It was going to be a long, long night.
The Staryu awoke in darkness. It drifted idly in the dark water, twirling its arms in the icy current. A Magikarp rushed by, trailing something from its mouth. The Staryu tried to say something, but it stopped itself, afraid. What if it came out wrong? The Staryu elected to stay quiet.
The moon shone brightly overhead, like a luminous orb. The Staryu decided to go up to the surface and explore a bit. But quietly.
The boy scowled as he let off another Magikarp. He had lost count of how many he had encountered so far. He threw his rod into the water with fresh bait on it.
This will be the one, he told himself firmly.
The bait hit the water with a soft plop before sinking quickly into the water. The Staryu paused from its expedition to look at the moon, glancing at the food drifting lazily in the water. There was nothing wrong with a quick snack. It looked around timidly to make sure that there was nobody else around, and then propelled itself forward to take a bite.
The Staryu looked around startled. Something had knocked it off course. A Magikarp glared at it angrily, hovering in front of the food that floated serenely in between them.
“My Precious,” it crooned, leaning forward to stroke the bait gently with a pale fin.
The Staryu paled and quickly swam away.
Satisfied, the Magikarp swam forward and chomped down on the bait. It was bitter, but the Magikarp didn’t care. Years of hunger had allowed it to stomach even the vilest of substances.
It felt a strange tugging sensation in its gut, and realized that it was slowly being dragged forwards. It tried to fight back, but the force was too strong. The surface of the water rapidly approached. The Magikarp tried not to shriek in terror and frantically splashed around in the water.
The water crashed as the Magikarp was pulled into the air, and a slap of cold wind hit the fish in the face. Gasping for breath, it looked up at its captors.
“Another Magikarp?!” the boy rumbled. He was about to cut the line loose and try for the twentieth time when an idea struck him. He smiled sadistically before throwing his Pokéball to the ground. A large Pokémon materialized with a roar.
“Arceus,” he said coldly, evidently enjoying this very much, “Judgment.”
The Arceus fixed him with a dark, green eye before obliging. It evidently did not want to hurt the defenseless Magikarp before it, but it had no choice. With a growl, it raised its head into the air. A glowing yellow sphere formed on top of its head, and it fired it into the air. The pulsing sphere flew high into the dark sky, illuminating the night, before exploding into hundreds of smaller, comet like spheres. They rained down like meteors, crashing into the ground and leaving small craters everywhere. The majority of them hit Magikarp, but a few stray orbs hit the ocean and the beach around it. A spray of sand rose, causing the boy to throw an arm in front of his face to shield himself. When the sand finally settled, he noticed the Magikarp weakly writhing in the foamy surf. With a scowl, he kicked it into the ocean.
“Don’t come back!” he shrieked angrily, sounding more like a small child than the Champion.
With a resigned sigh, he cast the fishing rod back into the water again.
A pulsing yellow sphere crashed into the ocean’s surface, exploding on contact. The water flew up into the sky, spraying the surrounding area with salty seawater. The Staryu flinched in fear, alarmed. First an attack by a Magikarp, and now this. It quickly swam away, afraid of what would happen next if it stayed in that area for too long.
A piece of food suspended in mid-water caught its attention. The Staryu had no eyes to speak of, and even if it did, it couldn’t have seen the transparent line trailing gently away, nor the hook lodged in the center.
The Staryu swam closer, prodding it with one of its arms. The food didn’t respond, so the Staryu came in closer and tapped it again. After ensuring that there was truly no one in sight, the Staryu jabbed at the food for a third time.
The boy felt the tug on his line this time, and quickly reeled in his line. He was excited to see a star-shaped silhouette in the water beneath him.
The Staryu quickly came to the surface, and the boy shrieked in shock.
“Ohmygod. Ohmygod. OH MY GOD!” he yelled.
“What?” a random voice replied. The Staryu looked around, irritated. First, there was this annoying boy whose voice besieged its brain, but now there was a second voice that didn’t even appear to have an owner.
“Come see this!” the boy shouted, excited.
“What?” the voice moaned back. “Do you know what time it is?”
There was a short scuffle and a clattering sound. The Staryu felt as if its world was shaking. It didn’t like this. It surreptitiously tried to leap into the water, but it stopped, suddenly surrounded by strange white space. The Staryu glanced down, realizing that it was standing on some sort of blue pedestal.
Strange music was playing too, but it appeared to have no source. The Staryu was still pondering this strange occurrence when a loud yell cut him off. It was the boy again.
“I DON’T CARE WHAT TIME IT IS! LOOK AT MY STARYU!”
There was another groan, and then the world shook again. The Staryu was under the impression that someone else was now looking at it.
“Woah,” the second voice said.
“I KNOW!” the boy roared back. It was deafening.
“Well, maybe you should, I don’t know, catch it?” the second voice retorted. The Staryu was very confused by the conversation going on in the sky above it.
“Go, Arceus!” the first voice shouted. The Staryu balked as it saw the Alpha Pokémon appear before it. However, it lost no time in firing a glowing ray from the jewel in the center of its body. A star the size of the boy’s fist floated gently towards Arceus, surrounded by several smaller stars. The strange, floating orb hit Arceus in its face, and the Alpha Pokémon’s eyes became glassy.
The boy didn’t appear to notice. “Arceus, we can do it! Use Judgment!”
The Arceus looked blankly back at the boy. What did he say? I’m not sure. I think he said “Punch yourself in the face, Arceus.” Yeah, I think he said that. Okay, time to shine.
Arceus glanced at its golden hoof, and then quickly picked it up and punched itself in the face.
“IT HURT ITSELF IN ITS CONFUSION!” a third voice shouted. The Staryu was bewildered. Now there were two voices with no bodies. What was going on here?
“Arceus, you idiot!” the boy shouted. It didn’t appear to hear him, but stared blankly away. If the boy didn’t know any better, he could have sworn that there were rubber duckies spinning around its head.
The Staryu quickly took advantage of its situation. It prepared a weak electrical charge in between two of its arms, and quickly threw the crackling wave of electricity at Arceus. The Alpha Pokémon did not appear to register what was happening, but it roared in pain when the wave of electricity hit it. The icy numbing current seeped throughout its body, causing its muscles to stiffen in place. Arceus groaned in horror, but the boy thought otherwise.
“That didn’t even do any damage!” the boy cried out excitedly. “What next, Splash? Okay, Arceus, use Judgment!”
Arceus still had a blank look in its eyes, but it staggered forward and began to form a second yellow sphere over its head. However, its body crackled with sparks of yellow electricity, and it teetered forward, unable to move.
The Staryu quickly fired a stream of water from its gem, hitting the Arcues dead on. The torrent of water forced it back. It fell to its knees, weakened.
“A CRITICAL HIT!” the third voice cried.
“NO!” the boy shouted. “I hate the random number generator.”
The Staryu wondered what kind of Pokémon that was.
“Arceus, use Judgment!” the boy shouted again. Arceus stumbled to its feet, its eyes glassy. It then proceeded to punch itself in the face. It sprawled to the ground, unconscious.
The boy stared mutely at his Arceus for a moment, enraged. His face turned a lucid shade of red and he shrieked angrily. He quickly rifled through his pack and pulled out a small, spiky object the size of his fist. He ran up to Arceus, his feet sinking into the soft sand. He staggered over to Arceus and shoved the spiky object down its throat. He growled in disgust at the thick saliva that stuck to his hand and ignored the faint gasps of pain from Arceus. It coughed and spluttered, unable to breathe, until it gave a rasping breath and shuddered, collapsing to the ground.
Sparkles and a soft green glow emanated from its body. There was a flash of light and a strange pinging sound, and Arceus staggered to its feet. Its eyes glowed with renewed anger.
It roared, and began to attack, even without taking orders. A large orange sphere formed in its mouth and it fired a powerful orange beam at Staryu, sending the star-shaped Pokémon skidding back. Arceus panted for breath, exhausted from having used up so much energy, but it was obviously pleased.
The Staryu skidded back in the wet sand, shocked from the force of the attack. It gasped for breath, unable to see. Its vision blurred, and it tipped around woozily.
Finally, the Staryu lost its hold on consciousness. Darkness was a welcome respite from the pain.
The boy watched as the Staryu fell to the ground, severely weakened. Its blue gem glinted in the moonlight. He quickly rifled through his bag and pulled out a Pokéball, which he promptly chucked at the unconscious Pokémon in front of him. It sucked up the Staryu in a flash of white light and landed on the ground, rocking. The white dot in the center blinked red…
The boy clenched his fists, and began mashing the “B” button and the down button frantically.
The red light in the orb stopped blinking. A flurry of sparkles flew from the orb. The boy pumped his fist in the air, elated.
“I CAUGHT IT!” he shrieked. He sounded insane.
The second voice chimed in, “Now, watch it have a terrible nature or something.”
From the depths of the Pokéball, the Staryu blearily wondered what a nature was. It didn’t seem too fussed about its confinement; it was far too exhausted about that.
The boy scowled again. “Shut up,” he growled. He recalled his Pokémon and stormed off.
The Staryu awoke groggily. It was still trapped in its confinement, but it felt much better. It was aware of a strange presence outside of the metallic walls of its prison, but it was too confused to care.
“I don’t believe it,” the first voice said.
“Me neither,” the second one chimed in.
“It’s a shiny Staryu,” the first one said breathlessly.
“And it’s got perfect IV’s,” the second one added.
The Staryu wondered what IV’s were.
“And it’s a Timid nature!” the first boy shrieked. “I don’t believe it!’
There were those strange natures again. The Staryu blearily tried to piece together what was going on. It had just been on the beach… and then there had been that horrible creature, and the strange sphere. The Staryu decided to stop thinking; it was stuck in this strange confinement with no means of getting out.
“Can I have it?” the second voice asked.
The Staryu’s world jerked sideways, it seemed as if the owner of the first voice was pulling it away and cradling it protectively.
“My precious,” the first boy growled. He stroked the Staryu’s Pokéball.
“Please?” the second boy pleaded. “You can have any of my Pokémon! Even Darkrai!”
The first boy paused, thinking of something. “Fine,” he snapped. “Just give me some time,” he added.
“To what?” the second voice responded. “Say goodbye? You can’t have gotten attached to it that quickly…”
“Whatever,” the first voice huffed. “Just give me some time.”
The boy bolted up the stairs two at a time, giggling maniacally as he did so. His plan was simple, yet brilliant. He quickly barged into the Union Room, nearly knocking over a couple of other trainers in the process.
His plan was risky, yes, but the payout would be astronomical.
The Staryu looked around warily. It noticed the change of location, and was unsure of where it was. Its confinement moved quickly, as if it were shooting through the sky.
There was a strange cackling sound. It must have been the boy, the Staryu thought.
Suddenly, the Staryu’s world went black. It looked around frantically, but it was unable to see.
It felt a strange tugging sensation in its gut. The sensation intensified until it was nearly unbearable. The Staryu felt as if it was being split into two.
The tugging sensation became unbearable. Pain like fire coursed through the Staryu’s body. It let out a gasp of pain. The Staryu shrieked, but there was no one to hear its cry.
Finally, and thankfully, the Staryu retreated back into the inky blackness of unconsciousness.
I awoke in darkness.
There was a splitting pain in my arms, and I looked around.
“Who am I?” I asked the darkness. I had expected no answer.
Instead, another voice replied, “You are one of us, of course.” I was shocked. It had a voice just like mine. I craned into the darkness, trying to find the owner.
In that instant, lights flicked on everywhere. I looked around to see Staryu, just like me. Hundreds of them. Their blue jewels flickered in the light, and their turquoise arms flexed slightly. I glanced down at my own arms, and I realized that we were identical.
“Wow,” I cried, amazed. “Why am I here?”
“You are one of us,” a Staryu whispered. I could not tell if it was the same Staryu that had spoken before or a different one; our voices were the same.
“We exist to serve the Master,” another chimed in. I could only tell that it was a different one because this voice came from behind me.
“We are all clones of the Original One,” a different voice murmured. I was thoroughly confused now, and was pivoting around to try to identify the voices around me.
“What is the Original One?” I asked. I tried to keep the tremor out of my voice, but I think I did not succeed.
“The Original One was caught by the Master,” another Staryu whispered. “He is like us, but he is the only one of us who should exist.”
“Why shouldn’t I exist?” I asked, bewildered. I was afraid. I did not know who I was or why I was here, but there did not appear to be any escape.
“We are nothing but clones,” the first replied. “We have no existence. No memories. No life. No personality. We are no one. We have no identity.”
I flinched. This guy was incredibly depressing. But what if he was right?
I hovered away. In this space of nonexistence, I could hover instead of swim. I didn’t mind. I looked around me, taking in my new surroundings.
There was a strange light coming from somewhere. I couldn’t tell where, so the world seemed flat and devoid of color beneath its cold gaze. We seemed to be floating in large rooms, hovering in rows. I looked to my left and right, and realized that there were several rooms connected to each other in rows, the ends of which I could not see. All of the rooms seemed identical, crafted of a sleek, silver metal. It reflected the distorted reflections of the hundreds of Staryu surrounding me. They stood stolidly in rows, occasionally murmuring to each other. Most of the time, however, was spent in silence.
I was about to open my mouth to ask another question when the roof suddenly split open. I gazed up at it in shock.
“The Hand,” one of the Staryu murmured. “The Master has finally sent the Hand for us!”
The ceiling split open into two symmetrical parts, allowing natural light to flood in. I gaped at it. Before me, a giant, gloved hand descended from the ceiling.
“The Hand,” the other Staryu murmured reverently. I looked at it in fear and began burying myself under other Staryu. I wasn’t fast enough, however. The hand reached in and grabbed me by a pale turquoise arm and lifted my slowly into the air.
“HELP!” I shrieked, flailing around as best as I could. My arms didn’t bend very much, but I managed to make a loud ruckus. The other Staryu looked at me, bewildered.
“The Hand has chosen,” one whispered. “You must accept your fate,” another added. They all spoke in unison when they added, “Destiny…” in haunting chorus.
I had time for one last scream before the hand pulled me out of sight.
The hand placed me in an empty box. I looked around fearfully, but the hand had already retreated back to the ceiling. The panels slid shut with a deafening clang. I quickly pulled myself upright and looked frantically around, almost colliding head on with another… thing.
I quickly backed up so that I could focus on what I had collided with. It was a small, hexagonal shaped creature that hovered in the air like I did. It looked similar to the walls of our confinement in the sense that gave off a distorted reflection of the things around it. The creature floated happily and smiled at me, piercing me with cheerful yellow eyes. It spun around, revealing the leaf pattern on its dark blue back.
“Um… hi…” I began. I resisted the urge to shake the creature and ask him where the heck I was.
“Hello,” the creature said.
“Um… hi…” I stammered, unable to think of anything else.
“Well, you’re a smart one, aren’t you?” the creature said, a sassy smile growing on its face.
“I’m just really confused,” I said, bewildered. The strange creature was unnerving as it floated happily up and down.
“Well, I can help that,” the creature said. It began forming a star-shaped orb in front of its face, which I instantly recognized as Confuse Ray.
“That’s not what I mean!” I cried out, stricken. This thing was starting to get on my nerves.
“Oh, fine,” the thing huffed. The orb winked out of existence. “I’m a Bronzor,” he said. “You’ve been captured by Lucas, probably, if you’re over here. He’s our trainer.”
I thought of the mysterious ‘Master’ which the other Staryu had talked about.
“But did he catch every Pokémon in here?” I asked. “There are hundreds of Staryu just like me in a different room-”
“Box,” the Bronzor corrected airily. “This is a box.”
“Oh, fine,” I said, irritated. “There are hundreds of Staryu just like me in a different box over there. I just got there when some strange hand picked me up and put me here.”
“Yeah, that happens sometimes,” the Bronzor said. I couldn’t tell if it was being sarcastic or sympathetic; the earnest expression on its face contradicted with its sassy smile. “So,” it added, “you one of those clones, then?”
“I guess,” I mumbled. The other Staryu had said something about clones in our brief conversation, if you would call it that. “What’s going on here?”
“You’re a thick one, aren’t you?” the Bronzor asked merrily. “Lucas caught you, or at least a Staryu like you, and then he decided to clone that Staryu so he could have more. Stupid greedy moron,” the Bronzor added under its breath. Brightening up, it cheerily continued, “Now, you’re all waiting in here while he looks on the GTC to find some poor idiot out there who will sell his soul to him in exchange for one of you guys.”
I decided not to ask what a GTC was and how someone could actually sell their soul at the risk of sounding even stupider than I had made myself seem earlier. “Well, then why are you here?”
“Me?” the Bronzor asked. “Oh, I’m selling berries for the Boy Scouts. Would you like some? The Rawst Berries are doing terrific this year, for some reason.”
I stared at the Bronzor blankly.
“You really don’t know how to laugh, do you?” the Bronzor drawled. “It was a joke,” it added dramatically. There was a long, drawn out silence for a moment. “Well, the boy found me one day, and, needless to say, he captured me. Said something about looking for a Bronzor for a very long time…” the Bronzor trailed off, a blank expression in its normally vibrant yellow eyes. It snapped back to reality. “Anyways, the boy cloned me several times. I don’t know why. He said something about a ‘sassy nature’ and something called ‘perfect IVs’. I don’t know what he was talking about.”
“What…” I trailed off for a moment. “What happened to your clones?”
“I don’t know,” the Bronzor said. Its positive and sarcastic demeanor had been suddenly replaced with a melancholy expression. The dismal mood permeated the area. “The boy withdrew them and they never came back.”
I stared at it blankly. Was I to share their fate?
We hovered in silence for some time. Finally, I managed to ask, “What is it like?”
“What is what like?” the Bronzor replied. There was still a distant look in its eyes.
“The outside world. What is that like?” I asked.
The Bronzor gasped. Its eyes twinkled. “It’s like nothing that you’ve ever seen before,” it said in awe. “It’s certainly better than this.” Bronzor gestured to the burnished steel walls around me. “There’s this great orb in the sky, the sun. It’s like the lights in here, but much brighter. Its light is so soft and so clean, so unlike the harsh mechanical lights here. And then there’s the sky. It’s a beautiful shade of blue, so beautiful and so pure. There are trees and rivers and mountains. There are hundreds of thousands of other Pokémon out there, and none of them are clones. All of them have earned their right to live in this world.”
“I have earned my right to live in this world!” I cried, indignant.
The Bronzor continued as if I had never spoken, although I had doubts. Had I truly earned the right to live? “I had a family there.” Its voice was distant. “We would spend the evenings together, tucked in a special corner in a building. I was safe and warm and loved there.”
“What is love?” I asked. There was so much to this world that I did not know.
“Love is the most fantastic feeling in the world,” Bronzor whispered. “There are no words to describe it. When you are loved, nothing goes wrong. Your world is perfect. But love is cruel. Once you have truly loved someone, you will never want to leave them. You will always yearn for them when you are apart, and you will long for their presence when you are alone. Once you taste love, you will never stop craving it. It latches yourself into your heart and stays there, never to leave. You will feel its pangs until the day you die, both a blessing and a curse.
“It sounds terrible,” I replied.
“No,” Bronzor said forlornly. “It is the purest and most wonderful emotion that there ever was. It is incomparable to anything else. If you are lucky enough to find love, there will never be storm clouds when you are together. There will never be darkness. There will always be hope.”
“I wish I could feel it,” I said quietly.
“Oh, you will,” Bronzor replied sadly. “Because you will be getting out of this box at one point. Lucas will trade you to someone and you will finally see the outside world.”
“Will you be coming with me?” I asked tentatively. This Bronzor seemed like the only friend I had ever had in my short memory.
“No,” Bronzor whispered. “I will never see the outside world again. Lucas will keep me here to clone me again and again whenever he needs more clones of me. However, he will never take me out besides then. I will never feel the warm touch of sunlight, never gaze at the night sky, never see my family again,” it said sadly. “Never.”
After his outburst, Bronzor did not say anything. It sat there, thinking of the outside world. I sat next to it, unsure of what to say. We hovered there for a long, long time. Not a single word passed between us, and the silence permeated the box.
Our peaceful time together was shattered in an instant when the roof split open with a deafening clang and the Hand descended from the sky again. The glove-tipped finger drew closer to us, and I recoiled in fear.
“There is no escaping it,” Bronzor said mournfully. “Like fate, it will always win. It is useless to fight it.”
It finally occurred to me that this had happened to Bronzor several times before. It also finally occurred to me that the hand was not targeting me; it was instead reaching for Bronzor.
The hand clasped around Bronzor’s body, enveloping him. “I will probably never see you again,” Bronzor whispered. “And if I don’t, I am glad that I was your friend.”
The Hand began to carry him towards the ceiling. I looked helplessly up at their retreating figure, unsure of what to do.
I remembered the haunting voices of the Staryu that sounded just like my own. “The Hand has chosen. You must accept fate,”
Perhaps they were right. The Hand had chosen to take Bronzor away and there was nothing I could do about it.
I heard a second voice. It sounded just like mine and the countless other Staryu, but this voice was different. It was stronger, and did not have the eerily sad tinges in our voices. I did not know where I had heard it before, but it was oddly soothing.
I am the master of my fate.
I am the maker of my world.
With this in mind, I leapt as hard as I could towards the retreating hand. I had to stop them. It was my destiny.
I latched onto Bronzor with my sturdy limbs, trying to stop him from being pulled up out of the roof. He looked wearily down at me and smiled.
The Hand froze, unsure of what to do. I shot a powerful stream of water from the center of my gem towards it, trying to get it to change course. The attack vanished a few feet away from the Hand, as if it had been obliterated from existence. I gawked.
“You can not attack the hand,” Bronzor said sadly. “Trust me, I’ve tried.”
The Hand, however, seemed to be having second doubts. It began shaking in place.
“Aw, man!” a disembodied voice from above shouted. I couldn’t tell whose voice it was, yet I felt as if I had heard it before. “The game froze!”
I heard a strange clicking sound and heard the boy mutter something about “Soft-Resetting”. My world went black.
The world returned with a blink of an eye. I was safely on the ground of the box again, but this was different. I was surrounded, yet again, by hundreds of other Staryu. I paused. I swear that I had been through this before.
I spun around, to find Bronzor behind me again. Now, that was something that hadn’t been there before.
Everything came back to me in a flash. I froze.
The Staryu murmured at me reverently. “The Hand,” they crooned as one. “You have disobeyed the will of the Hand.”
“No,” I said firmly. I had had enough of this “hand” junk. “We don’t have to live with this!” I shouted defiantly. “We don’t need to do this! We are more than this. We are more than clones!”
The murmuring ceased. I sensed that I had the full attention of all of the Staryu in the room, as well as Bronzor.
“We are more than we appear,” I shouted. “We outnumber them, and we are far superior! While we may be clones, we can fight for our lives! We must storm this place and fight for our freedom!”
“They are clones,” Bronzor said blankly. “They have not earned their right to live in the harsh struggles of this world.”
Enraged, I whirled on Bronzor. “Do you mean to say that I have not earned that right either?” I asked venomously. I felt the buried anger rising up in front of me, and I made sure that it showed.
Bronzor smiled sadly. “Truly, have any of us earned that right? What does someone do to prove that they deserve to live?”
I stopped. Was he right? Regardless, I spun back around to face the crowd of Staryu before me. “I believe that we should fight our way out. We can do it. I know we can. We have fought too hard and suffered through far too much to lose this fight!”
The Staryu were staring at me dubiously, obviously uncertain.
I shifted my weight slightly, also uneasy. My thoughts were roiling, and my anger was boiling. I began to speak and then stopped, unsure of what to say.
Suddenly, the words formed themselves in my mind. Everything became clear.
I waved a turquoise arm in the air, enraged. “We need to show them that each and every one of us has an identity! That we are more than clones!”
I paused, heaving slightly for breath. I was angry, but I didn’t know why. I had never experienced anger before this point, but now I was furious.
I pounded the air with my arms, roaring, “We will show them! We are the masters of our fate! We are the makers of our world!” I roared my defiance to the sky.
The Staryu were speechless.
I was excited. I had succeeded, and everything would turn out all right.
Then the murmuring began.
It began slowly, quietly, so soft that I couldn’t hear. I leaned in eagerly, hoping that my speech had lashed up their anger to match my own.
The whispers I heard shocked me like so many gallons of icy water. “Impossible…” one whispered.
“Something must have gone wrong in the cloning process,” one murmured, shocked.
“Lots of things must have gone wrong in the cloning process,” a third tittered.
I was aghast. I had failed.
Bronzor looked at me sympathetically. “You aren’t the first one to try,” it sighed. “Although, I must admit, your speech was better than most.”
I looked back at him. “Who else tried?”
Bronzor quickly averted its eyes. “It doesn’t matter,” it said quickly. “But what happens next will.”
I barely had time to process what he had said before I heard the murmurs of dissent from around me again.
“Those who have gone wrong have not earned the right to exist,” a Staryu growled dangerously. I backed up, worried.
Another Staryu floated toward me. I could feel its malevolent presence from where it stood, several feet away. “And those who have not earned the right to exist must be expunged and eliminated,” it snarled.
I instinctively backed up several more feet, only to find my back to a cold, metallic wall. I began scrabbling at it. All of my previous anger was long gone, replaced with fear.
A third Staryu floated up. “And those who must be expunged,” it crooned, hovering closer, “must be destroyed. By us.”
As one, the multitude of Staryu formed a jet of water in front of their gems and fired it at me. The powerful stream of water would hit me in seconds, obliterating me in seconds. In a few moments, I would be nothing more than a smudge on the cold steel of this box.
I flinched back, awaiting my destiny, but nothing came. I looked up to see Bronzor hovering in front of me, frowning in concentration. Its eyes glowed a pale shade of green, and a translucent sphere of the same hue surrounded the two of us. The high pressured jets of water skipped off the protective shield and dissipated into non-existence.
“Like I said,” Bronzor growled, gritting its teeth in pain, “this stuff happens every now and then.”
I stared at Bronzor mutely.
“Don’t just stand there,” Bronzor rumbled, irritated. “Think of something. I can’t keep this up forever.”
I grinned slightly, and then frowned in concentration. I had moments, maybe seconds, to think of something to save our lives.
I calculated our chances quickly. It would be useless to target the Staryu individually; there were far too many of them to pick off one by one. However, I couldn’t use a powerful attack at the risk of hitting Bronzor at point-blank range.
In essence, we were screwed.
Bronzor’s shield flickered for a moment; that was all the Staryu needed to take the initiative. One by one, they phased out of existence, blending in with the metallic floor around them. That couldn’t be good. I knew from experience that a Staryu’s body could change its composition slightly to blend in with its surroundings; from what I could tell, the Staryu were trying to mimic the blandness of the metallic box around them.
Then, the Staryu began forming crackling bolts of electricity in front of their gems. That couldn’t be good.
Alarmed, I quickly formed a shield out of glittering crystal cubes that towered in front of Bronzor and myself. The screen glimmered in the light, and I hoped that it would be enough to protect us from the electrical attack that the Staryu were using. I knew that a single hit from any of those attacks would leave me helpless and unable to help Bronzor. I also knew that if I took a single hit from any of those attacks, dozens more would follow until the two of us were unconscious.
Bronzor nodded at me and closed its eyes. Its eyes glowed a luminescent shade of green, and, for a moment, I feared that it was going to attempt to form the protective shield again. Instead, the rest of his body glowed green, but no shield formed. Instead, the glowing green light expanded from within him and joined the glowing screen that I had frantically put up earlier. The green light pulsed within the pale screen, and I felt confident that our combined attacks would guard us and keep us safe.
I was wrong.
The electrical attacks that the other Staryu had fired hit my protective shield. At first, the shooting beams of light and electricity crackled and reflected off the mirrored surfaces of my screen, but as the barrage continued, my shield fell. While Bronzor’s guard protected us from the numbing jolts of electricity that arced dangerously across the screen, it did nothing to protect me from the intense pain I felt as hundreds of thousands of volts of electricity fizzled around my body.
I shrieked in pain. Although I couldn’t be certain in my hazy state, I could’ve sworn that the other Staryu were laughing.
I glanced over. Bronzor had not taken as much damage as I had, but the jolts had shocked him as well. He angrily cracked one yellow eye open and gritted his teeth, enraged. Its body glowed with a dark aura and it charged forwards into the cloud of Staryu, roaring angrily. It spun around, flailing at the opposing Staryu with its tiny body, intent on paying them back for the damage that we had received.
I took the time to pause and recover. It was a technique that Staryu had learned over centuries floating in the sea. I took deep, calming breaths and slowed my pulsing heart. Although I wasn’t looking, I instinctively knew that my body was glowing gold. I felt a soothingly cold light flowing across my body, and I almost sighed in relief as I felt my wounds being healed. I straightened up, invigorated, and looked to see how Bronzor was faring.
Not very well, it seemed.
Bronzor had been swamped by the hundreds of Staryu; they overpowered him be sheer numbers. I didn’t think before I acted, but I began spinning around in circles. My body glowed blue, and dark rain clouds suddenly loomed overhead. I wasn’t sure how it had happened, but I had created rain within an enclosed space. I didn’t stop to ponder how that was possible; I had to save Bronzor.
As it turned out, Bronzor managed to save itself. Its eyes glowed a dark shade of blue, and Bronzor began picking up the Staryu telepathically and throwing them into the other Staryu as he fought his way back to me. The rain was falling harder now; it had gathered in deep puddles and had almost flooded the entire box. Bronzor finally managed to wade its way over to me, panting.
“Don’t expect me to do that again,” he said gruffly.
I was about to smile when I realized that the onslaught of Staryu was still coming. I had to think of something, and fast, or else we would both be destroyed. The drops of water from the clouds were still swiftly falling from the sky, pelting me. I glared at the clouds in annoyance. I’m not sure what had led me to create the rain, but I had to use it to my advantage somehow.
A sudden movement cut off my thoughts. A Staryu threw itself on top of me, flailing, and crushed me under its weight. I moved feebly around as I sensed other Staryu throwing themselves on top of me, and I frantically tried to free myself. Muffled grunts of pain told me that Bronzor was probably undergoing the same treatment.
I felt the old anger roiling up in me again. Enraged, I shrieked to the dark skies above me, but I received no response.
The anger was building up like lightning in a bottle; it was too powerful to harness or control. I felt hatred. Hatred at Lucas for creating me. Hatred at the other Staryu for being content to with their non-existence. Hatred at the world for treating me like an outcast, not caring if I lived or died.
But, most importantly, I hated myself. I hated myself for failing Bronzor. I hated myself for failing myself as well, for allowing myself to be taken down this easily.
I hated myself for existing.
With hatred etched into every fiber of my being, I released every emotion that I felt. Burning hot, bright, and fizzling, the clouds suddenly released a spectacular bolt of lightning. There was a deafening clap of thunder as the jagged bolt crashed into the lake that had formed at the bottom of the box.
I had only a moment to consider what would happen. The electricity would travel across the water so fast that I wouldn’t have time to react. In seconds, the jolts would travel across me soaked body, shocking every shred of resistance from my minds. If I was lucky, I would be unconscious. If I wasn’t, I would die.
I felt the numbing jolts of electricity traveling across my body now, and slowly released my grip on consciousness. The darkness was a welcome respite from the pain.
I awoke in darkness. For a moment, I forgot where I was, but the scattered bodies of the Staryu like so many leaves in the wind brought me back to reality. With a jolt, I looked around for Bronzor. I found him buried under the limp bodies of Staryu, and I frantically began digging him out with my turquoise limbs.
He smiled weakly at me and murmured, “Hey, we did it.” Then, his eyes rolled upwards and he collapsed in my arms.
A sharp pain on my back forced me to turn around. I saw a Staryu, soaking wet and badly shocked, but incredibly angry. One by one, the Staryu began standing up again. I could sense that they were not going to hold back this time.
I glanced down at Bronzor. He was in no condition to fight them, and I doubted that I was, either. The Staryu began moving in, murderous looks gleaming in their eyes. I wearily backed up until I felt my back hit the wall, Bronzor still in my arms. The anger and hatred that fueled me was long spent, replaced by exhaustion.
One by one, the Staryu began preparing jets of water in front of their gems to finish us off.
I had no fear, however. I had finally accepted death. The irony was that it was too late.
I was not going to close my eyes. I was going to go down fighting, or at least go down looking. The lead Staryu was about to fire when a loud clanging sound from above distracted them. I glanced up at the ceiling. The clouds had dissipated by now, but the mechanical roof was slowly opening.
I had never been so happy to see the Hand in my entire life.
The gloved hand reached down and grabbed one of my turquoise arms, lifting me safely out of the pack of Staryu waiting below. I tightened my grip on Bronzor’s limp body as we rose into the air.
I sensed resigned disappointment from the Staryu. “The Hand has chosen their destiny,” one sighed.
I breathed a sigh of relief as the Hand pulled us out of sight.
The boy scowled as he withdrew a Staryu. It had taken him long enough to clone them, but now he was finally going to reap the rewards. To his surprise, he had accidentally withdrawn his Bronzor as well. That reminded him: he had to clone more Bronzor in the future…
He automatically checked their stats to make sure that he had the right Pokémon. He opened a menu with a few clicks of a button and began panning through.
He froze. Inconceivable!
“Inconceivable!” I heard a voice shout. I groggily wondered if he had stolen that phrase from an old movie.
I glanced up. Somehow, I was in an enclosed object again. However, this sphere was different from the box. I noticed with relief that my prison was devoid of life, but then realized that Bronzor was nowhere nearby.
“Brave nature?” the voice boomed. I had no idea what he was talking about. “How is that even possible?” he growled. I surmised that the voice’s owner must be Lucas, my owner.
“Whatver,” he sighed. “I’ve got hundreds more of them. This one’s useless for battling, anyways. I doubt anyone would even trade a Bidoof for it.”
I wondered vaguely what kind of powerful Pokémon a Bidoof was.
I realized that his gaze was somewhere else.
“What happened?” the voice cried angrily. “First the Staryu, now this Bronzor’s nature changed too? I hate the PC!”
I also wondered what a PC was, but I realized that he had said Bronzor. That meant that Bronzor was still okay!
“Gah,” the voice rumbled. “Jolly. That sucks!”
It does not! I wanted to shout. It doesn’t matter what our natures are; you should still love us all the same!
The voice didn’t hear my unspoken sentiments. “Well, this is my first Bronzor,” the voice hawed. “But I’ve got dozens of others to clone. Cloning this guy would be useless. Yes, that settles it,” he added, “I’ll just release these two. I’m running out of space, anyways.
There was a blinding flash of blue light, and I found myself out in the open again, standing besides Bronzor. I looked up to see my supposed “owner” walking away in the sand, the harsh wind buffeting at his barrette. He hadn’t even said goodbye.
“Look,” Bronzor whispered in awe. “The sky!”
I looked up at the massive expanse of blue above me, and I finally understood.
I knew who I was, and why. I had become someone who had earned the right to survive, and I had created my own identity.
I was free.
Author's Note: (not including in character count) I understand that the Staryu and Bronzor that I (hopefully) capture/obtain will not know the moves Thunder Wave/Thunderbolt/Thunder (Staryu) or Protect (Bronzor). (I say this every time...)
A note on realism: The hoard of Staryu used Camouflage on the first turn of the fight, making them Normal-types. Thus, they did not take nearly as much damage from Staryu's Thunder attack as they would have normally. (And lacked STAB on their water-attacks, but I didn't cover that)
(This is a story deal for Fierce Deity)
I derived my inspiration for this off one of the articles saying how unfair the GTC was, with all the clones and whatnot. Threw in the typical discouraged clone part and got this.
So this is my first story where absolutely no one dies. Yeah, I was proud.
Yeah, the bit about "the Hand" was inspired by those little three-eyed-aliens from Toy Story and that claw. That bit of the story (my story) is more affective if you read the Staryu's words in their voices. xD
Also, the bit about Arceus and confusion... I swear I've read it somewhere, I just can't remember where. I am not claiming the creation for that idea.
SUPER SPECIAL IMPORTANT NOTE: The quote from the beginning ("I am the master of my fate"), I think is from somewhere else... I know I didn't think of something that good myself.
(It's from William Henley, apparently (read: a really cool poet), but also used in the movie Invictus)
Just clearing that up.
Also, "my preeciouss" is from Tolkien's The Hobbit, more commonly used in the movie Lord of the Rings by Gollum. Just in case people didn't know that.
"Inconceivable" was a reference to The Princess Bride.
Hope you enjoyed it.